The world is a dramatically different place today than it was last year this time. The ever-present threat of COVID-19 has driven many Americans into their homes in quarantine from their normal routine. During this quarantine, many people have found new hobbies and spent more time with their loved ones. These, along with minimizing our personal risk of catching Coronavirus, are some of the great benefits of the forced slow down we have found ourselves in. On the other hand, quarantine has had some negative side effects that contribute to diminishing heart health.
Millions of people suffer from a heart attack every year in the United States. It is a highly common and sometimes deadly medical emergency that occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked. This lack of blood flow can cause the heart muscle to die. Many heart attack patients report similar symptoms including but not limited to tightness and pain in the chest, neck, and arm, lightheadedness, and an abnormal heartbeat. Sometimes women report different symptoms from men.
You may be wondering what quarantine has to do with your risk of heart attack, and the answer is simple. Quarantine has thrown all of our lives for a loop and when we lose our grasp on our routines it can be easy to lose sight of the healthy habits that keep us from the risk of heart attacks.
Stress is a major factor in the declining heart health of the American public. One of the main ways in which stress can lead to a higher risk of heart attack is by increasing your blood pressure. Do you know the feeling of being stressed and feeling your heart pound and the onset of a headache? Those symptoms are linked to an increase in blood pressure that, over time, can have a profoundly negative impact on your heart health. As your heart bears the extra pressure being brought on by stress, the muscle itself becomes weaker until eventually it gives up and you experience a heart attack.
Even though we find ourselves in bizarre circumstances, you don’t have to give in to the stresses the world is heaping on you. Take note of the things in your life that are causing extra stress and see what you can do to mitigate those issues to prevent a heart attack. For instance, the 24/7 news cycle is highly stressful for many people. Watch as much news as you need to remain informed and then turn the television off. Better yet, read the newspaper! Additionally, many heart attack survivors express the stress-relieving benefit of meditation which can be practiced from the safety of your own home.
Common Dietary Backsliding
When you found out that you were at risk for a heart attack you probably did your best to clean up your diet. This is common for many of our patients and has a profound effect on your long term health. Unfortunately, in the face of disaster, it’s very common for patients to revert to their poor dietary habits.
Have you found yourself eating foods you thought you had moved away from? Are you snacking on salty treats throughout the day, or consuming alcohol or drugs to cope with quarantine? You’re not alone, it’s very common for people to revert to bad habits when life begins to feel unbearable. However, we urge you to address your dietary habits as soon as possible to avoid suffering a heart attack.
Instead of stocking up on ready-made meals, why not use this time to become more proficient at cooking healthy and delicious meals for your family? Not only are you reducing your own heart attack risk, but you’re promoting healthy dietary habits for future generations. You can buy a cookbook or even search online for free heart-healthy recipes. When you treat heart-healthy cooking like a fun hobby it makes preventing a heart attack fun!
Sitting Idly at Home
A lot of people around the world have been confined to their homes to some degree for most of 2020. That means fewer people are going to the gym or joining group fitness classes. Even walking around the mall is less safe now than before. However, this is no excuse to be idle. It is a common misconception that the only way to get exercise is through traditional fitness. You can get just as much benefit from going on a daily walk, and while you may not want to go to the gym, no one can stop you from strolling the streets of your neighborhood.
Walking isn’t your only option. If you have a pool at your home, you can get some excellent, heart healthy exercise moving around in the water. Gardening is another relaxing and simple way to get your blood moving and reduce your risk of having a heart attack. The opportunities for exercise are only limited by your own imagination. Come up with a list of things you enjoy doing that elevates your heart rate. Whether you’re chasing your children or grandchildren around the back yard, or investing in an exercise bike for your home. The important thing is that you exercise, not how you choose to do it.
2020 has so far been quite a doozy, let’s not add having a heart attack to the list. It looks like it will be some time before life goes back to normal, so it’s high time we start adjusting our current lives. The examples above are just some of the simple things you can do to invest in your own heart health and reduce your risk of a heart attack. If you would like more information, or would like help determining your current heart attack risk, contact us today.